Horsemeat in German-produced food in Austria: firm

Traces of horsemeat have been discovered in beef tortelloni manufactured by a German food company and delivered to Austrian branches of budget retailer Lidl, the German firm's parent company said Friday.

In the first case of its type in Austria, Lidl said it was pulling the product off the shelves after the country's food agency said "undeclared horsemeat" had been detected in the tortelloni.

The product has also been withdrawn from sale in Germany as a precautionary measure.

The agency in Austria said it had not yet established the proportion of horsemeat in the product and would provide full details on Monday.

Liechtenstein-based Hilcona, parent company of German firm Gusto, which manufactured the product, confirmed the Austrian agency's findings in a statement but said the tainted meat must have come from one of its suppliers.

"As the manufacturer of the product in question, we do not process any fresh meat and get our meat from suppliers," the firm said in a statement.

"It must be a product incorrectly labelled and delivered by suppliers. We are in close contact with them and are doing everything we can to establish the facts," added Hilcona.

It was not clear whether tests had just revealed traces of horsemeat DNA or larger quantities, the firm said.

"As an immediate measure, our clients are taking the product off the shelves," Hilcona stressed.

The scandal appeared to be spreading in Germany with Aldi Sued, another low-cost food retailer, taking beef ravioli and goulash from its shelves after tests revealed non-declared horsemeat.